• synonyms


[kuh-men-suh-liz-uh m]
  1. Ecology. a type of relationship between two species of a plant, animal, fungus, etc., in which one lives with, on, or in another without damage to either.
  2. Sociology. peaceful coexistence among individuals or groups having independent or different values or customs.
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Origin of commensalism

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for commensalism

Historical Examples of commensalism

  • It is a case of commensalism of which there are very numerous examples.

    The Industries of Animals

    Frdric Houssay

  • Commensalism: applied to this manner of living and eating together.

  • Mr. A. Agassiz has remarked to me another example of commensalism.

  • Such a state of close and permanent friendship is called "commensalism."

  • Though no crab, perhaps, is truly parasitic, some live in relations of “commensalism” with other animals.

Word Origin and History for commensalism


1870, from commensal + -ism.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

commensalism in Medicine


  1. A symbiotic relationship in which one organism derives benefit and the other is unharmed.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

commensalism in Science


  1. A symbiotic relationship between two organisms of different species in which one organism derives benefit while the other is unaffected. Examples of commensalism include epiphytic plants, which depend on a larger host plant for support but which do not derive any nourishment from it, and remoras, which attach themselves to sharks and feed on their leavings without appreciably hindering their hosts. Compare amensalism mutualism parasitism.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.